Sixty-five-year-old Richard Aiken is an extraordinary man. Over the years, he has learned and mastered many talents. He’s a husband, a father, has two Ph.Ds and a medical degree, has worked as an opera singer, and is the author of lifestyle book “The New Ancestral Diet.” He is also amazing with his hands, and as you will soon see, knows his way around a fixer upper. How is it possible that one man can do all this? I’m not sure, but keep reading to watch him turn an old log cabin into an unbelievable sight.
Richard had been considering acquiring a house out in the woods for some time. Isn’t it everyone’s dream to have a hideaway out in the woods, where you can relax and get in touch with nature?
Waking up to birds chirping, stepping outside your home and being surrounded by trees and animals, and most importantly, no cars or pollution. That seems like a dream come true. Honestly though, probably not ideal for getting to work and school. And where’s the closest supermarket? Maybe this wouldn’t be your first choice for your main residence.
Richard was under the impression that a second home would be a considerable expense, but when he got some info from a man in Missouri about an ancient, decrepit cabin out in the woods, he had an idea that he could remake it into the kind of home and life he had always dreamed of.
Richard paid $100 for the land, including the run-down cabin. The owner was not very interested in the property and even offered it to Richard for free, but he insisted on paying him something.
Enter at Your Own Risk
Clearly, the cabin was in terrible shape. Richard had a ton of work to do just to get the cabin safe for use, way before he could even think about living there. The site of Richard’s future home was filled with rubble, and the roof had caved in.
Just looking through the doorway seemed dangerous, never mind spending time inside the place. None of these things deterred Richard, and he resolved to work on the cabin in every spare moment he could find.
Not Picture Perfect
The first step was to examine the cabin. Richard had to decide what he could save and what he would have to replace. When he took a closer look, he soon realized that most of the wood was badly rotten.
He then knew that he would have to tear down most of the logs and rebuild the cabin from scratch. Nonetheless, he decided that it was important to him to incorporate some of the old logs, to make sure that a piece of the original cabin remained in the new structure.
Getting to Work
While Richard carefully took apart the old wood, he marked the logs from the outside of the cabin, so that he would know how to put them back together after cleaning up mold and rot from untold years. The cabin may have been in rough shape, but you really couldn’t beat the view.
Living in such a beautiful place is a dream come true. That is mostly what kept Richard going, and you will soon see that he was right to not give up hope.
An Unexpected Discovery
The job at hand was enormous, and Richard called in his family to help with the work. Soon after they started working, they unearthed a natural spring right next to the house. The Aikens could now potentially live on their own waterfront property! The revelation also added a lot of extra work.
The family spent untold hours digging up the ground to reveal the secret spring, which would decorate their newly rebuilt home. Now that the cabin was in pieces, Richard could rebuild it in any location he liked.
A Beautiful Reveal
The Aikens dug into the spring until they reached bedrock, but had to bring in bulldozers to finish digging out the remainder of the pond. Yes, they actually built their own pond. Before he even started on the house, Richard put in a dock for the pond.
The dock shows how handy Richard is, and how much craft and care he put into this project. The dock is the perfect touch, and was a relatively easy project for Richard to tackle once he got started.
The Perfect Spot
As soon as the natural spring and pond were completed, Richard immediately knew where he should build his new home. Next to the pond was the perfect spot. He was finally ready to begin the reconstruction.
He had everything planned to the last detail, including the marked wood, and he was ready to go. Now was the time for Richard to carefully construct the new cabin, starting with the base.
The View from the Top
Richard was hoping to “remain true to the spirit of the original construction,” but that wasn’t as easy as he’d hoped. Partly, because the Aikens had dug into the bedrock, and reached about six feet below ground level to create the spring and pond. Therefore, the new house would have to be at least a few feet off the ground.
This also had an upside, because the view at that height would be even more beautiful when the house was finally done, but we’ll get to that soon enough.
Starting to Take Shape
Richard and his family poured concrete to make the basement floor, and he used the trees around the house as additional materials. They created new floor joists from white oak, and used split cedar shakes for the shingles. A rural front porch was the perfect addition to balance things out.
Richard used wood from around the property in order to help blend the house with its natural surroundings. Things were moving ahead, and the cabin’s true potential was starting to shine through.
Hearth and Home
Richard felt that a hearth was an essential part of his new home. He didn’t feel that it would be a proper log cabin without one, and it would also suit the country living aspect he wanted to imbue his house with. The Aikens made a deliberate choice by installing a Rumford fireplace.
The Rumford was one of the most common fireplaces in log cabins between 1796 and 1850. This choice added to the traditional rustic feel the house was filled with when completed.
Stairway to Heaven
The new house needed a second floor, and to reach that floor, Richard had to put in a staircase. Richard found a majestic fallen oak tree and formed it into a beautiful flight of stairs. Richard did not want to cut down any of the beautiful trees around his property, so re-purposed wood was ideal.
Also, the seasoned wood was such a gorgeous shade and texture that any carpenter would be thrilled to use it.
The Perfect Entryway
Richard had a vision of the perfect front door for his new cabin. It would be the first thing guests would see when coming to the house, and he felt it should have a woodsy vibe. The Aikens went to a local carpenter with ideas and materials, and he created the doors and windows for the cabin.
The simple design was a perfect complement for the rest of the house, and also a fitting tribute to the original log cabin, which had been taken apart and put back together again.
Closing the Gaps
Because Richard had built the cabin out of natural logs, they did not fit together perfectly, and gaps were created between each unique piece of wood. The Aikens went to work, fixing the gaps with chicken wire and an outdoor sealant.
The family muscled through the enormous project together as a team. The gaps in the wood and the filler make the cabin look more organic and like an integral part of the scenery.
With the daunting task of the outside taken care of, it was time to turn to the inside’s design. The family chose rustic chairs and tables, and made sure there was plenty of wood for the fireplace. Things were really starting to come together and feel homey.
The most wonderful part was the Aiken’s choice to keep their country home traditional and avoid modern trappings. Even though the cabin was their new home, they still wanted it to feel old fashioned.
Choosing the Right Table
The Aiken’s had Amish Neighbors, who willingly created a beautiful harvest table for them, using a fallen walnut tree and native white oak. The harvest table was built to be light and easy to move, and could be brought closer to the fire on cold days.
This was very important, because the house would not have any electric or oil heating. It seems like they took everything into account when they were creating their perfect country getaway.
Let There Be Light
Richard installed a candle chandelier in the new house, as a main source of light when there is no electricity available, and designed the peak roof to allow natural light to shine into the cabin.
In the city, it is easy to overlook the amount of light that enters a home, but windows that let in the light are an incredibly important feature, even more so in a house without electricity. A perfect example is this perfectly positioned window in the house’s ceiling, flooding everything with sunlight.
No rural log cabin is complete without a loft bed. Where else would you sleep? This small loft looks cozy and inviting, and like the perfect place to spend the night in the country and breath in the fresh night air. The room gives off a warm and snugly feeling, and is a great spot to peacefully doze off after a long day of outdoor adventures.
A loft bed also helps maximize space to fit in as many family members as possible, all wanting to enjoy their special home in the woods.
Country Style Cooking
The Aiken’s love to cook, so they knew that their country house wouldn’t be complete without a hearth. The hearth is extremely versatile and can be used for anything, from hot drinks to scrumptious meals. Because the fireplace can also be used as an oven, the family did not have to add a kitchen to the confined space.
And anyways, nothing is more traditional than cooking your meals on an open flame, even more so if it is inside your very own home!
If you can’t believe your eyes after seeing what can happen with just $100 and tons of heart and hard work, wait until you check out this next home, which was completely redone by one of HGTV’s biggest home improvement stars.
Joanna Gaines Turns a Shack into a Beautiful Home
Whenever Chip and Joanna Gaines take on a new home renovation project, you can be sure that the results will be amazing. But even with all their remarkable success, it’s still seems like a miracle that they could turn this shack into a functioning family home.
When the final result is revealed, you will wonder why anyone even buys a brand new fully decorated home, when they can save and buy a rundown fixer upper.
In the fourth season of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper”, the Matsumoto family purchased the home, which was in horrible condition, for only $12,500. The money was mainly for the large parcel of land the house was sitting on, and not for the house itself, which was almost entirely destroyed inside. Even a quick peek into the interior showed that Chip and Joanna Gaines were facing an enormous challenge.
The home needed new windows installed, all the wiring needed to be replaced, and the house didn’t really have a floor or a functioning ceiling. The transformation they achieved is almost impossible to believe.
Brand New Exterior
As you could see in the first slide, the exterior of the house was in complete disrepair. The roof was in shambles, the house had no siding, and no one was even thinking about a front porch. Joanna Gaines took that run-down shack and turned it into a gorgeous country home.
Joanna used her expertise for country home design by adding a metal roof, building a brand-new front porch, and replacing all the windows, adding lovely shutters. She highlighted the house’s best features while also adding a much-needed foundation.
The interior looks even better…
A Brand New Kitchen
The little shack featured on the fourth season of “Fixer Upper” was given a big modernization, and Joanna Gaines proved once again that she is an expert on utilizing a small space to its fullest potential. The kitchen is beautiful and has everything the family could possibly need.
Joanna was able to provide the Matsumotos with extra space, by putting in mid-level open cabinets and a kitchen island with extra seating – just right for having people over in a small space. She also put in gorgeous wood floors and top of the line stainless-steel appliances, that helped transform the shack from a fixer upper to a dream come true.
A Room for Lots of Living
If you thought completely turning around a falling down shack was hard, things were going to get even harder with the family soon to be blessed with the arrival of twins. Considering that soon enough the house would be filled with the pitter patter of tiny feet, an open design was ideal for the confined space.
Joanna Gaines used her iconic ship-lap design on the walls, and then added off-the-floor shelving units that complemented the room while offering easy access, without taking up much needed space. A lovely living room rug served to highlight the room, but didn’t completely cover the beautiful hardwood floor.
A Truly Masterful Bath
The one main advantage to working in a broken-down shack is that you get to design every room from scratch. Although the space in the house is limited, Joanna Gaines managed to produce this amazing master bath that any buyer would love.
Watching the transformation of this home, which most people would simply demolish, into a thing of beauty, is truly mesmerizing. This shot was taken from the walk-in shower, overlooking a claw-foot tub and exquisite cabinets that add loads of storage space for a small but stunning master bath, filled with light and charm.
A Dreamy Master Suite
Joanna Gaines made it a priority to include a stylish and up to date new master suite in the redesign for the Matsumotos. The ceiling is actually constructed from old wood that was recovered from the original shack, so the couple could always look back fondly on their house’s humble origins. It turned out so well that it wouldn’t be a surprise if the new ceiling from reused material becomes a hit!
The bedroom was photographed from the corner, giving us the best view of the final result.
Room to Grow
When starting the renovations, it was important to the Matsumotos that their daughter have a room she could grow up in, happily . They really wanted everything to be perfect, and judging by the result, it seems like their goal was realized.
The room is full of soft colors and childish accents, sure to make any child feel comfortable. Also, the large window next to the bed will ensure a happy and sunny start to each day.
Room to Play
In the boys’ room, interactivity was the most important component. The Matsumotos asked for a room where the boys could play, grow and have adventures. This boyish look was realized by using corrugated metal wainscoting. The bunk beds were custom designed and are meant to simulate a tree-house indoors.
The family couldn’t contain their happiness when they saw this room, both kids and parents instantly fell in love with it. With all the love that went into the making of this room, we bet any boy would feel lucky to have it!
The family decided that due to their laid-back lifestyle, they could live without a formal dining room. Instead, they asked for a gathering area they could use outdoors. Joanna Gaines decided to give them the best of both worlds by creating a family gathering area in the patio and adding a dining room table, if the need for more traditional entertaining ever arose.
In the meantime, the Matsumotos could use this beautiful table to enjoy family dinners.
Utilizing the Space
In order to create the kitchen and living room, Joanna Gaines decided to split one big room into two smaller ones. However, because there is no wall separating the rooms, each had to have its own unique and distinctive look and feel. You know what the rooms look like now, but here is a snapshot of what they used to look like.
It’s hard to believe that this is the same space. This one of the most amazing transformations we’ve ever seen!
Welcome to Texas!
The Mastumotos originally lived in Los Angeles before moving to Texas. While talking with Joanna Gaines, Michael Matsumoto admitted that he had never even considered leaving the city of angels, but had unexpectedly fallen in love with his new Texas town.
Crawford, Texas is the polar opposite to the lights, action and gridlock of L.A., and Michael believes that is what makes it a great place to bring up kids. The Matsumotos feel that the small-town vibe is what made their integration into Texas living easy and fun.
The Other Side of the Camera
Michael Matsumoto is familiar with the world of television, but before this season four episode of “Fixer Upper”, he only knew it from behind the scenes as a producer. Being in front of the camera was definitely new and exciting for this father to be.
He explains that the strangest part was getting to see a whole new side to Chip and Joanna, “On a typical day, I work as a co-worker with Chip and Jo, so it was really different being the client.”
Safe as Houses
The Matsumotos are definitely happy with their choice to go on “Fixer Upper.” Their renovated home is as good as new, and they are ecstatic with how it turned out. Michael said the end result was both beautiful and functional.
Maybe even more importantly, the house has been baby proofed. All new parents worry about providing a safe environment for their little ones to grow up in. Joanna Gaines took care of that as well, with a design that made child safety a priority and the family couldn’t feel more at ease.
Advice on the Process
One of the most important lessons the Matsumoto family took to heart from this experience, was to go for what you want. Imagine the house of your dreams and figure out how to make that dream a reality. Michael could have chosen any house, but he had a dream, and now he feels that his house perfectly suits him and his family.
He understands this is not a simple thing, “I think the hardest thing for people to visualize are good bones or good elements to work with.” If you have those, your imagination is the limit.
Up for The Challenge
This season four “Fixer Upper” renovation was one of the biggest challenges Joanna Gaines ever faced in her professional career, but in the end, it became one of her favorite projects. She can barely believe the trust the Matsumoto family put in her to turn a rundown shack into their family home.
When you check out the before and after slides, it is almost hard to believe how lovely the finished house is. What a triumph it is to take on such a difficult project and emerge with a modern masterpiece.